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Assange backer defends Swedish women's rights

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Assange backer defends Swedish women's rights
12:51 CET+01:00
WikiLeaks fan Jemima Khan, who helped post bail for its founder Julian Assange after he handed himself in to UK police over sex crime allegations by two Swedish women, has criticized his prolonged extradition fight.

Khan, the associate editor the New Statesman magazine, is known to be among the WikiLeaks fans who contributed to his bail.

Assange's fight against extradition to Sweden, which he has said would see him deported to the US, has seemingly become all the more worrying in Khan's eyes.

“The women in question have human rights, too, and need resolution,” she wrote in the latest issue of the New Statesman.

“Assange's noble cause and his wish to avoid a US court does not trump their right to be heard in a Swedish court.”

Although Khan did not leave out criticism of the rape charge having been retracted by one Swedish prosecutor only to be reissued by another, she said she was now convinced the matter should be handled by the Swedish justice system.

She wrote that she had not been able to contact Assange, who has barricaded himself in the London embassy of Ecuador, to talk about some aspects of his stated concerns.

“I had wanted to ask him about the opinion of objective legal experts who – contrary to the claims made by WikiLeaks – insist that he is no more vulnerable to extradition to the US from Sweden than he is from the UK,” she wrote.

“The WikiLeaks server was once hosted in Sweden to take advantage of the country's liberal protections for journalists (in contrast to Ecuador, which ranks 119th in the World Press Freedom Index).”

Khan said she was not alone in reacting to the timing of the rape and sexual abuse charges. Some observers at the time branded it an obvious “honey trap,” set up to frame the controversial whistleblower.

She praised Wikileaks' ideals of transparency and openness, but said she would like the organization's founder to address the allegations against him.

“I don't regret putting up bail money for Assange but I did it so that he would be released while awaiting trial, not so that he could avoid answering to the allegations,” she wrote.

“I have seen flashes of Assange's charm, brilliance and insightfulness. But I have also seen how instantaneous rock-star status has the power to make even the most clear-headed idealist feel that they are above the law and exempt from criticism.”

The Local/at

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